The Legislative Yuan passed a rightful Uyghur resolution, confirming that Taiwan is in a unique position to understand the Uyghur pain and “translate” it to the world.
by Kok Bayraq, with Rebiya Kadeer
On December 27th, 2022, the Taiwanese Parliament passed a resolution that recognized that the Chinese government is committing crimes against humanity and genocide against the Uyghur people. With this resolution, the Legislative Yuan fulfilled what I see as its historical role.
The world needed a special translator to understand the Uyghurs’ pain. Because China’s current policy towards Uyghurs is beyond human comprehension. The world believes that cutting the skirts of women walking on the streets and plucking the beards of men in the name of eradicating religious radicalism can only be done in a tribal country. It cannot imagine such actions in China, which claims to have a five-thousand-year-old culture.
I do not think a European would believe that the “Pair up and become relatives” campaign, wherein Chinese cadres sleep in the houses of Uyghur families, is really happening. Even I have problems in finding a term to qualify it. Europeans think that at least the Han cadres would refuse to carry out such an irrational and immoral act.
As people who have experienced China’s threat for some seventy years, Taiwanese could interpret this pain.
Yes, the world needed a fully skilled interpreter to understand China’s genocidal policy towards Uyghurs. Because the more skilled the Chinese become at carrying out such inhumane actions, the more skilled and experienced they become at concealing and hiding them.
For example, although China’s official name for East Turkistan is “Xinjiang,” which clearly carries the meaning of a “new border,” Chinese officials do not hesitate to say that this place has always been a part of China since ancient times.
With that skills, China also calls concentration camps “vocational training centers” and juvenile prisons “angelic schools.” In China, critical statements by the UN Human Rights Commission can be distorted into “I admire the Chinese development of human rights.” Even when 44 Uyghurs were burned alive because they could not leave a locked building, China blamed the victims, stating, “The door was open. They could have escaped.”
Moreover, the Taiwanese, as a people who use the same language and alphabet as China, have the most complete understanding of all the word games and the terrible gestures and orders revealed in leaked secret documents, such as Xinjiang police files and the Qariqash Files.
If the journalists of Radio Free Asia’s Uyghur department had not reached “teachers” and “students” in the camps with phone call and presented their voice with audio records, the world would not have believed Uyghur activists when they stated that concentration camps had been set up in East Turkistan in the 21st century. If Bitter Winter had not published in 2018 exclusive footage of the “transformation through education” camps, proving they are in fact jails, if Canadian Han student Shawn Zhang had not disclosed the names of the construction contract bids, and the Australian Strategic Policy Institute had not disclosed satellite images of the camps, no one would have believed reports that more than 120,000 people were in the camps in Kashgar, and more than 3 million were in the camps in the entire Uyghur Region.
However, besides science and technology that can decipher the tools of oppression, a heart that feels the suffering of the oppressed is necessary. The hearts of the Uyghur people, who paid a heavy price to gain independence, and the Taiwanese people, who wanted to preserve their freedom, have the same heartbeat for liberty.
Yes, a translator was truly needed, but not in the form of an individual or an expert only. Taiwan did more.
Through the Uyghur Resolution, Taiwan’s parliament fulfilled its role as a historical translator. It also returned a sense of calm, and showed a healthy human response to this 70-year-old stench—the Chinese threat.
Taiwan’s parliament once again has been the true voice of the people on an urgent international matter, the Uyghur Genocide. This resolution proved how some elected members of parliaments can distinguish between true enemies and friends, and can be enemies of their enemies and friends of their friends.
Exploring such a painful situation, including preparing a report, is not an easy process. We believe that the Uyghur people will remember the bravery of fifteen Legislative Yuan members and their aids, including Wang Dingyu, in this matter.
To mobilize talented translators, hardworking ambassadors are needed for Uyghurs. Orkesh Dolet, Nury Turkel, Dolqun Isa, Omer Qanat, Ilshat Hesen, Ilham Mahmut, Umit Agahi, Mihrigul Tursun have played the role of ambassadors in introducing the Uyghur Genocide to Taiwan. History will not forget these heroes!
Finally, on behalf of the Uyghur people whose voice is being silenced through ongoing genocide in East Turkistan, we applaud Taiwan Parliament’s rightful Uyghur resolution.
Personally, I must say that I admire the sensitivity and intelligence of my intellectual friends, who predicted that help would come from Taiwan thirty years ago, while living under China’s information siege.
The resolution reminded me of one of our secret conversation with friends some twenty years ago in East Turkistan. While we were discussing who could help us in the world, our friend Perhat Mollahun, who later got a life sentence, said: “Taiwanese are our interpreters to the world, who can fully feel the pain of the Uyghurs.” When I reacted skeptically, he explained : “You may say that the Taiwanese have never experienced the oppression of the Chinese Communist Party, but, even though they have no tasted oppression, they have smelled it for decades. The stench—the Chinese threat—that lingers in your nose will spoil any delicious food in front of you and finally push you to act.”
Perhat Mollahun turned out to be right. If we look at the past year, including the military exercises that pushed the line, Xi Jinping’s threat “don’t play with the fire,” and Hua Chunying’s nonsensical statements that Taiwan is a missing child that one day will return home, it is a repulsive, if not poisonous, smell that spoils the taste of normal life in Taiwan. This is why they understand the Uyghurs.